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2021 Wrestling RIP Thread


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JCP & Crockett Jr. made some great rassling, so great in fact that 35 years later a brave promoter/booker/worker still copy it, modernize it, namedrop it, or merchandise it and they can still make money. Whether you are in the biz or if you are a new fan, those shows still stand up and the best will get you on your feet. So many eras and so much great action and angles and innovations - thank you, sir.

- RAF

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4 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

I can totally see Lance as a high school sports coach. Maybe not even football... baseball or soccer.

He was a volleyball player, not sure about his multi sport resume.

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7 hours ago, elizium said:

How and why do the elderly manage to capitalize every word like that?

Do some phones or devices have this weird and incorrect auto-correct that does this for them and they don't know how to turn it off? If it is intentional, however, it seems like a shitload of unnecessary work. Or do they just lose their train of thought after each word and sort of start the sentence over all the time?

Edited by Shartnado
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As a kid who started watching wrestling in the run-up to Mania 1 (so I was 9 years old), being introduced to JCP by a friend was a revelation.  I'd been to some WWF house shows when my friend invited me to go to The Bunkhouse Stampede in Baltimore.  I told him it would be cool if we got front row tickets and he sincerely said, "NO WAY!  What if someone gets hit with a 2x4 and flies out of the ring and lands on us!?"  JCP/NWA just felt so edgy, outlaw, and absolutely real.  I became a bigger fan of JCP than WWF from a very young age and I'm always tickled when Meltzer lists my hometown as one of Crockett's hotbeds.  Baltimore was not the south but we absolutely did not fuck with that fake shit.  Thank you and god bless, Mr. Crockett.

I'm bothered by WWE memorializing JCP on Twitter and their site.  That's like John Wilkes Booth writing a touching memorial to Lincoln.

Edited by Technico Support
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17 minutes ago, odessasteps said:

JC mentioned that Crockett Sr once tried against Vince Sr in NYC and it’s possible that grudge lingered, explaining why Vince relished putting Jim Jr out of the business.

I doubt that since that was more of a Rocca thing with Crockett Sr. supplying some talent. I can see Vince projecting all of the slights he got growing up from the rich or powerful types in his home town on Crockett, kind of like how he disliked Vader because he reminded him of his stepdad. 

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What Lance Storm said.  JCP and Southern booking made a wrasslin' fan out of me.

RIP JC Jr.

Edited by J.T.
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6 hours ago, Mister TV said:

he disliked Vader because he reminded him of his stepdad

Whaaaaa? Really? I thought he just didn't get pushed because he was stiff and stinky. 

Also, did anybody have anything bad to say about Crockett? He seems like one of the guys like Jim Barnett that nobody ever complained about.

RIP

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On 2/26/2021 at 10:38 AM, RunningFromAmerica said:

jospehhudson.png

I really loved this. Great stuff. RIP Joseph Hudson.

Hudson cut some of his best promos during the Spiritual Advisor gimmick.  

RIP Josephus / Question Mark.

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9 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

Whaaaaa? Really? I thought he just didn't get pushed because he was stiff and stinky. 

Also, did anybody have anything bad to say about Crockett? He seems like one of the guys like Jim Barnett that nobody ever complained about.

RIP

Vince not liking Vader because of the stepdad is something that’s been mentioned in a joking fashion in the past, or when people armchair analyze Vince. 

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One of the greatest heels in Florida history and a short-list candidate for the NWA championship before his career ended by the tragic plane crash that killed Bobby Shane. RIP.

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On 3/5/2021 at 12:28 PM, Mister TV said:

I doubt that since that was more of a Rocca thing with Crockett Sr. supplying some talent. I can see Vince projecting all of the slights he got growing up from the rich or powerful types in his home town on Crockett, kind of like how he disliked Vader because he reminded him of his stepdad. 

If we're playing armchair Sidney M. Basil, I'll say I agree with the speculation that Vince had a strong aversion to anything southern due to being extremely self conscious of his own North Carolina lower class upbringing.  Excluding his fascination with "scuffling hillbilly' gimmicks, that is.

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The newest WON is a depressing one just for the sheer number of obits that Dave wrote

  • Jim Crockett Jr.
  • Dean Ho
  • Art Michalik
  • John DeFazio
  • Hector "Don" Serrano
  • Ann Casey

And that doesn't even count the half dozen luchadores who got one line each later in the issue

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Here is the tale of the plane crash with Buddy Colt from Gary Hart's book. It is harrowing, I warn you. RIP, Buddy. 

Spoiler

On February 19th, 1975, we had a show in the Miami Convention Center. After the matches, Bobby Shane, Buddy Colt, Dennis McCord, and I left the arena and went to Wolfie’s to get something to eat, and then we went to the airport to board Buddy’s plane – a single engine Cessna 173 - to go home to Tampa. Buddy was flying the plane, Dennis was next to him, Bobby was behind Buddy, and I was behind Dennis.   


When we had originally flown into Miami, Bobby was behind Dennis, but I asked if we could switch seats going back, because Dennis wasn’t as tall as Buddy, and I could have more leg room. Bobby didn’t mind at all, because it was going to be a “working flight.” As I mentioned in the previous chapter, Bobby was in the process of taking over the book from Bill Watts, and as Bill’s assistant, I was reviewing the TV formats and going over the building managers with him, and I was also going to help him book a few shows during the flight, as well.  


As we left Miami, Buddy called Tampa control and asked how the weather was over there. They said there were severe thunderstorms moving across the bay, so Buddy decided to change course and land in Sarasota. Before he could change course, an air traffic controller from McNeal Air Force Base in Tampa came on and said that if we wanted to go to Tampa, we could make it, assuring us, “You won’t have any problems, and you’ll probably get here before the storm comes in.”   
Buddy asked us all if we wanted to land in Sarasota, or if we should head on to Tampa, and we collectively made the unanimous decision to go home. That’s why we were on the airplane in the first place. There was no concern about the storm, because the air traffic controller assured us we would make it to Tampa in time.   
When we broke through the clouds over Tampa, however, we realized that the air traffic controller had seriously misjudged the storm’s movement, and we were smack-dab in the middle of it. The landing was going to be difficult, and on Buddy’s first attempt, we were high and to the right, so he veered out over the bay to go back in for another approach. As soon as we started over the bay, Dennis screamed, “For God sakes pull up, we’re gonna hit the water!”   
As soon as I heard him say that, I reached down and unlatched my seat-belt. The next thing I remember was that I popped to the top of the bay, and it was at that moment I realized I had just survived a horrible event.   


Buddy’s plane had hit the bay cart wheeling at one-hundred-and-eighty miles per hour, and as it broke apart, I was thrown out because, fortunately, I had unbuckled my seat-belt in the nick of time. The plane crashed three-hundred yards offshore, and I was thrown an additional one-hundred-and-fifty yards away from the wreckage.   
Way off in the distance, I could see a light, but I didn’t see hide or hair of Bobby, Dennis, or Buddy. I started swimming towards the light, and even though it was raining badly and the water was choppy, everything seemed so serene. I started to realize that I couldn’t see out of my right eye, and when I reached up to touch my head, I could feel my skull. Even still, I had no pain, no fear, and no concern. I was completely at peace, and wasn’t afraid.   

My only ambition was to get to that light, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make it. I swam for a while, and then came upon Dennis. He had gone down with the plane, but being a power lifter, was able to curl his seat-belt to give himself enough room to slip out. I was relieved to see him, but he told me he couldn’t make it any further. I instructed him to lay back and float, and then I grabbed him with my left hand and pulled him along as I swam. At the time, my left arm and wrist were broken, but I didn’t know it yet. I just got a grip on him, and did the backstroke with my right arm until we got to shallow water. At that point I said, “Come on, Dennis, we can walk now.”   


He just looked at me and said, “Gary, I can’t walk.”   


Since his feet were caught in the bottom of the plane, they were all torn up and rendered useless. Then, I heard Buddy’s voice out in the distance, screaming, “Is anybody there? Is anybody there?”   


I told Dennis to stay put, and swam back out in the bay towards Buddy’s screams. I don’t know how far I went, but when I got to him, I immediately asked if he knew where Bobby was. He said no, so I hoped that Bobby saw the light himself and swam on his own. Buddy was severely injured. He had no problem getting off his seat-belt when he sank with the plane, but the rudder pedals wrapped around his ankle and lower leg, and broke his leg in a compound fracture. It was only hanging on by tendons. Just as I did with Dennis, I pulled Buddy to shallow water, and sat the two of them together. At that point, I turned my attention to finding Bobby.  
I swam back out, and started hollering his name. Of all the guys, Bobby was actually a true friend. Don’t get me wrong - I liked Buddy and Dennis a lot, but I had known Bobby for years, and we lived together when we worked in Michigan. I was very concerned that he wasn’t there with us, especially knowing that Buddy and Dennis went down with the plane. After calling his name for quite awhile and searching to no avail, I made the decision to stop searching for Bobby, and to go get help for Buddy, Dennis, and myself.

  
The light I had been swimming towards was on top of a dock. It was low tide, and the wall from where the water ended to the top of the dock must have been twenty-five feet high. There was a ladder, but there was a good twelve feet between the water and the foot of the ladder, so Dennis and Buddy let me crawl up on their backs so I could reach it. Both of them - with one leg each - stood up so that I could climb on their shoulders and reach the ladder. I climbed the ladder to the dock where the light was at. There was a boat there, so I pushed it into the bay so Buddy and Dennis could climb in and get out of the water. There was also a house by the dock, so I started pounding and kicking on the door.   


Unbeknownst to me, due to the force of the crash, I lost all the clothes that I had on - my shirt, my pants, my underwear, my rings, my watch, my socks, my shoes - everything. I was standing there completely naked, with caked blood all over me, and my skull exposed. When the people came to the door and saw a naked bloody man pounding on their door, they panicked and closed the door, screaming, “Get out of here! We’re calling the police!”   


They were freaking out. This was 2:30 a.m., and they didn’t know that a plane had just crashed in the bay. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to kick on the door five more times to make sure that they would indeed call the police. Then, I walked back to where Buddy and Dennis were and yelled down to them, “Help is on the way!”  


 At that point, I sat down under a tree. I still didn’t have any pain or any fear, and was very collected, peaceful, and calm. I heard sirens, and the first person I saw was Bob Roop’s wife, who lived nearby and heard on a police scanner that a plane had gone down in the bay. She wanted to know what she could do for me, so I said, “Call my wife and tell her that I’m injured but alive, and that I’m on my way to the hospital.”  


The next person I saw was a policeman, and as soon as he saw me he said, “I guess you won’t be at the matches on Tuesday night.”  


When I was being put into the ambulance, Dick Murdoch – who arrived after hearing about the crash - came running and jumped in the back with me. The ambulance driver started screaming that he had to get out, but Dick growled, “Nobody’s throwing me out of here! He’s my friend and I’m staying with him!”  


He stayed with me and talked to me during the entire ride, even joking, “That’s the biggest bump I ever saw you take!”   


Dick was so wonderful that night, and even went into the emergency room with me. I told him, “Dickie, if I should die, tell my wife to cremate me, take me back to Texas, and spread my ashes there.”   


He assured me he would, and waited with me until my wife arrived. The last thing I remember was that when my wife finally got to the hospital, she started crying on Dick Murdoch’s belly.   


I went out for three days. When I woke up, I was extremely relieved and thankful to be alive. I told my wife, “I had a dream that Duke Keomuka was here, and he told me that I was a hero the way I saved Buddy and Dennis. He even made a joke that I killed my heat, and that I’ll have to work real hard to get it back. Then, when I asked him about Bobby, he said he didn’t make it.”   


 “That was yesterday,” she said. “It was Duke. He really was here. Eddie Graham and Jim Barnett were here, too.”   
“I didn’t see Eddie or Jim,” I said. “I only talked with Duke.”   
  
 “No, Eddie was here,” she replied. “He was in the room with you and Duke. Jim was out in the hall with me, because he couldn’t bear to see you in the condition you were in. Fritz and Doris Von Erich called, as well.”   


I was hoping Duke’s visit was just a dream, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. I really wanted to believe that since Buddy, Dennis, and I made it - Bobby survived, as well. When my wife confirmed that Bobby had died, it had a tremendous affect on me. I was sent into despair, and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep.  


After sleeping for two more days, Fritz called again. This time I was able to speak with him, and he offered to send a plane and bring me home to Dallas. I told him that I appreciated the offer, but that I needed to stay in Florida and recuperate. He then passed the phone to Red Bastien, Danny Plechas, and Bronko Lubitch, and I spoke with them all briefly before I went back to sleep.   


A few more days of sleep later, I started coming back around. At that point I knew I was messed up, because I couldn’t lift my head off of the pillow or raise my arms off the bed. I literally could not move. If I coughed, the doctors would have to give me hard drugs, and if I sneezed –they would have to call the Pope. The pain was just unthinkable. It was agonizing. That’s the only time I ever did hard drugs in my life, and I still hurt.   


Two-hundred-and-eighty stitches were put in my head alone. The crash knocked out all of my teeth. The tip of my nose was cut off. I lost all sight in my right eye forever. I broke my back, my left leg, my left wrist, and my left arm. I fractured my sternum, my clavicle, and some vertebrae on my back.   


I was lucky, though, because when I arrived to the emergency room, there was a plastic surgeon on duty who sewed my nose back on and sewed my head up, and I really don’t have bad scars on my face. I do have severe scarring on my left leg, though, because when I went through the top of the plane, I caught it on the metal and steel, and it cut me up quite a bit. Even though all my injuries were on my left side, the entire right side of my body was black, blue, purple, and yellow - every disgusting color you could imagine.   


When Jim Barnett came with Eddie and Duke that first day, he took my wife to lunch, feeling she needed to get away from the hospital for a while. He told her that he would be sending us $500 a week to cover our costs, and that the Florida office would chip in an additional $250 a week, because we had no health insurance. They took very good care of us.   


I never held Buddy Colt responsible for anything. The person that put us in that situation was the air traffic controller at McNeal Air Force Base. It was his fault, not Buddy’s, and I consider Buddy to be a very good friend of mine to this day. Buddy Colt would have been a great World Champion, because he was 6’1” and 238 pounds with a fabulous body. He had beautiful blonde hair, was a good looking guy, and the ladies loved him. He was also a good performer and a good interview. Unfortunately, Buddy lost his airplane, a great deal of money, his foot, and his wrestling career that night. He lost it all, but being a marine, Buddy overcame it all, and is as happy today as he ever was.  
   
Unfortunately, the crash messed up Dennis McCord for life. I had known Dennis from when we worked in the Carolinas together, and he also wrestled in Australia as Mike McCord, which is where I really got to know him. He was able to recover and continue wrestling, but was forever mentally tormented by that night. I will always have a special bond with him, though, and I even named my first son, Jason Dennis, after him.  


Bobby Shane, God love him, was finished on this earth. Even though he had only been in the business for eleven years, he made quite a name for himself and has left behind a great legacy. His early, untimely death is all the more tragic because he had such a tremendous career in front of him, given the fact that he had just gotten his very first booking job in the states.   


I was very depressed over his death, and had tremendous feelings of guilt for not finding him. One of the things that really compounded my guilt was that I had been holding some animosity towards him for when he was seemingly taking Jerry Jarrett’s side in Georgia. Looking back, I now realize that he was only trying to help. The other thing that I agonized about was the fact that I switched seats with him to have more leg room. Yes, I know that I un-latched my seat belt and that was how I survived – but who knows? Maybe if I had stayed in my seat and my legs were up against Buddy’s chair – I wouldn’t have been able to clear the plane – and Bobby would have.  


Those two things – the grudge I was holding and the fact that we switched seats - really affected me after the crash, added to my remorse, and tormented me for quite some time.    


Bobby’s parents were kind enough to come and visit me. They knew how guilty I felt, got the coroner’s report, and showed it to me, stressing, “Gary, even if you had found him, he would already have been dead. He only had a tiny bit of water in his lungs.”   


No matter how hard I wanted to believe that Bobby found his own light that night, what happened was, as we went in the bay, Bobby hit his head on the inside of the plane - and that killed him instantly. As time went by, the knowledge that Bobby died on impact did ease the pain a bit, but it was still very difficult.  
I eventually talked to my good friend Don Jardine about my grief, and he told me that no one could have done more than I had, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty. He said, “I wasn’t surprised that you were the one who saved them, because you have very strong will power and a very strong mind – but don’t ever feel guilty, because if it wasn’t for you, maybe Buddy and Dennis wouldn’t be alive.”   


Don’s words were very comforting to me, but I suffered from “survivor guilt” for a long time. It was very hard for me. Dealing with Bobby’s death was harder than the crash and the swim to shore. It was overwhelming.   


When I think about that night, I wonder how I survived. It’s amazing that I did everything I did: Swimming, getting Dennis, getting Buddy, trying to find Bobby, climbing the ladder, dropping the boat, and kicking on the door - all the while with broken bones. I was truly at death’s door, and for a long while that realization messed me up, as well. However, I survived, and I’m just thankful that I made it through and that I can walk around, enjoy my life, and do the things that I do now.   
People tell me I’m a hero, but I don’t want to hear that, and don’t see myself that way. I see myself as someone who God gave the strength to get out of a horrible situation. I never attributed that to me. I attribute that to God and a higher power.   


It was hard to keep that story quiet, because there were articles and pictures about the plane crash and of us in our hospital rooms all throughout Florida. I really had to live the hero image down to maintain my “Playboy” Gary Hart persona, and that took a while. Stories began spreading about that night, and to this day there are so many rumors about the crash that many people have heard distorted tales. One lore, for example, is that the bay was infested with sharks. If there had been sharks in the water that night – with all the blood we lost – we would have been eaten up. Now, I would love to tell you how I had to fight off the sharks that night – but it just isn’t true. I don’t know why people make stuff up about the crash…the truth is horrific enough.  


Oddly enough, I never suffered from any type of fear of flying after that, and got on airplanes with no problem. If I did get anything from that experience, though, it was a new perspective on life: To live every day like it’s my last, to spend time with the people that I care about, to let them know I care about them, and most importantly, to laugh and have a good time. The true way to happiness is through laughter, because laughter brings love and happiness.   
Since the crash, I’ve tried to stay as true to those as possible, so in that sense, the crash was, to me, a rebirth.       

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